Calculating the Net Greenhouse Warming Effect of Renewable Energy Resources: Methanol from Biomass

Rex T. Ellington
Mark Meo

DOI: 10.2190/22FP-J4BR-NXQF-91EB


We present a quantitative method that accounts for all greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted from technical systems (not just their primary processes) for their full life-cycle plus after effects to give an unambiguous basis for comparing the total greenhouse warming "forcing" of alternative projects or plans. A systems perspective is used to include the entire supporting infrastructure. The life-cycle-plus perspective includes the GHGs emitted during the system's construction, operating life, and salvage periods plus final decay of residual GHGs. It captures all system emissions, including activities separated in location or time, to characterize the technical or policy trade-offs available to decision makers. The fundamental soundness of the method is demonstrated by assessing the total greenhouse warming effect of a biomass energy system.

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